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Jakarta Post

PKS faces electoral extinction

  • Nadya Natahadibrata

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 28, 2013   /  09:01 am
PKS faces electoral extinction

An new opinion poll by the state-run Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has found that the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) could suffer virtual annihilation in the 2014 legislative election.

Firestorms of graft scandals have assailed the Muslim party'€™s leaders.

If the election was to take place today, according to the survey, the PKS would pick up a measly 2.6 percent of the vote, far below the current 3.5 percent electoral threshold.

The survey found that the PKS trailed even the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party at 7.4 percent and lags behind the diminutive United Development Party (PPP) who would take only 2.9 percent of the vote.

Syamsudin Haris, LIPI senior political analyst, believes the bribery scandal that implicates former chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, party supremo Hilmi Aminuddin and current chairman Anis Matta, has more or less destroyed the party'€™s electability.

'€œThis means that the mechanism of punishment by the public is working, as shown by the survey result,'€ Syamsudin said.

A number of pollsters have previously forecast declining popularity for Islamic parties in 2014 with major parties like the PKS and PPP involved in corruption scandals and the National Awakening Party (PKB) split by a power struggle.

A poll by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), released last month, showed the PKS with only 2.7 percent of votes.

Another study by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) found that if the election had to been held in October 2012, Muslim-based parties '€” including the PKS, the PKB, PAN and the PPP '€” would have collectively taken 21.1 percent of the vote.

Having enough '€œbeefs'€ on their plate already, the PKS is undaunted by the survey.

On Thursday, the party even switched its position on the plan to amend the Presidential Election Law.

Convinced that the PKS would get at least 20 percent of the vote in 2014, leaders of the party decided to support major political parties like the Democratic Party, Golkar and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in rejecting an amendment to lower the presidential threshold from the current 20 percent of the popular vote and 25 percent of seats in the House.

PKS politician Indra, said the party'€™s crumbling prospects did not match with the political reality on the ground.

'€œWe won West Java gubernatorial election, even after Pak Luthfi'€™s profile rose in the media. This means, we still have public trust regardless of the graft case,'€ he said, referring to the victory of Ahmad Heryawan and Deddy Mizwar in the West Java gubernatorial election.

The party earlier won the same election in North Sumatra, where its candidate Gatot Pujo Nugroho got 33 percent of the vote.

Last week, PKS-backed candidate Ridwan Kamil, a popular architect, won the mayoral election in Bandung, West Java.

Indra said that predictions of a PKS collapse could in fact motivate party members to buff up the party'€™s grubby image.

'€œPrior to the 2009 general elections, almost all opinion polls predicted that we wouldn'€™t make the electoral threshold. The results proved the naysayers wrong and we succeeded in getting 8 percent of vote,'€ Indra said.

The LIPI survey also predicted a poor showing for the once mighty Democratic Party in 2014.

If the election was to take place today, the ruling party would only get 11 percent of the vote. The CSIS poll showed an even more dismal performance, predicting only 7.1 percent of votes for all the President'€™s men and women.

'€œThis could mean that SBY'€™s decision to take over leadership of the party has positively affected their electability, even though the increase is not great, considering that they won the last election,'€ Syamsudin said.

The survey also found that the PDI-P would win the 2014 legislative election albeit with only 14.9 percent of the vote.

The survey was conducted between 10 and 31 May in 31 provinces. LIPI interviewed 1,799 voters. The margin of error is 2.31 percent.

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